1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most widely known passages in the Bible. It is known as "The Love Chapter," and is well loved. Many times it is read at weddings and is often used in premarital counseling. I think, though, that most of the time we miss the whole picture.
This chapter is set down in the middle of a section on spiritual gifts and the use, or misuse by the Corinthian church. The letter was written to a congregation that had a number of serious issues, issues that would be enough to cause many church leaders to quit. There was immorality, dissension, and arrogance. There were factions, and the people didn't do a very good job of treating each other right. They were more concerned with their own spiritual gifts and using them for themselves than they were with loving their brothers and sisters.
It is in this context that we find the Love Chapter. Think of it this way:
Love is patient...with that person who just doesn't get it.
Love is kind...to that jerk who thinks they are God's gift to mankind.
Love does not envy...the success of that one who always gets everything they want.
Love does not boast...of my success.
Love does not dishonor others...by gossiping or slandering them.
Love is not self-seeking...even when I'm not getting my way.
Love is not easily angered...even when someone tries to tick me off.
Love keeps no record of wrongs... even when it keeps happening again and again.
Love does not rejoice in evil...even when we think they deserve it.
Love rejoices with the truth... and glorifies God.
Love always protects...because we are family.
Love always trusts...even when he has blown it again.
Loves always hopes...even when she is a hopeless case.
Love always perseveres... even if it's taking forever.
Love never fails...the greatest of these is love.
As an old song used to say, love hurts. It hurts to love people who are not all that loveable. You may get your heart torn out and stomped on. Loving our brothers and sisters is not for the fainthearted.
But, without love, we are nothing.
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